In the toolkit you will find a comprehensive collection of text, visual and audio resources about ways to customise governance to suit local and culturally diverse situations. There are stories about innovative ideas and practices, and strategies and tools that will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to determine for themselves how best to build effective and legitimate governance systems.
This website draws on the pioneering research of the Indigenous Community Governance Project in Australia, and is updated regularly with the success stories of the Indigenous Governance Awards. The case studies, insights and tips come straight from the personal experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians working on the ground with their own communities and organisations.
The toolkit is not a ‘one-size fits all’ solution. It draws on the diverse experiences and solutions of Indigenous peoples across Australia and internationally.
There are many challenges involved in the work of governance rebuilding and how you go about it affects the outcome. Sometimes people try to move too quickly, or take on too much, without fully appreciating just how complex this kind of change can be.
You will create more sustainable and legitimate outcomes if you take a steady incremental approach to rebuilding your governance. Achieving cultural legitimacy may mean having to experiment with different solutions.
A developmental approach to rebuilding governance starts with what is present in your community, group, Nation or organisation (skills, abilities and experience, as well as cultural values and knowledge); not what is problematic or absent.
And even when you have implemented a solution you’re happy with, you may need to adapt it in order to keep up with a changing wider environment. So it’s worthwhile setting aside time to periodically assess the road-worthiness of your governance.
The toolkit provides only part of the picture. Its usefulness will depend on people being prepared to talk together about difficult issues such as: “What role do we want our cultural values and relationships to have in our governance process?”, “Why are our meetings badly run, or dominated by one person?”, “How well do we communicate with each other?”, “Who are our members?”, “Why don’t we have any young leaders?”, “How do internal politics, apathy and personality conflicts effect our governance?”, “If we want to be self-determining, what should we be taking responsibility for?” and “Who really makes the decisions around here?”.
The toolkit provides educational resources, reliable tips and better-practice advice about ways to tackles these challenges. In the end, getting started and sustaining the effort comes down to a combination of several basic factors, including:
- having leaders committed to governance-rebuilding;
- being honest in your self-evaluations and realistic about your aims;
- putting a priority on internal consultation and open communication;
- being smart about using your own resources, scarce time and skills;
- being open to learning new ways of doing things; and
- keeping an eye on whether you are still on track.
As Indigenous people talk together and share their breakthroughs and solutions, they can design pathways into the future that maximise their self- determination through effective, legitimate governance.